Match Report from: Colin Warrick
The Warriors took to the field for the 1st time in 2020 in a competitive fixture welcoming West of Scotland Ladies to Violetbank in the 1st of the pool games in the SRU National Shield.
Straight from the kick off Annan pressed the visitors attack & within two minutes opened the scoring when Allana McWilliam intercepted a pass to race in from 40 metres out, conversion from Mally McGeoch.
From the kick off Annan returned the ball with interest only for the ball to be turned over following a loose pass which allowed the visitors to attack & build phases, that aligned with a couple of penalties taking them deep into the Annan 22 from where their number 6 charged over from close range.
Quite a whirlwind start to the game & from the kick off the Warriors new they need to get control of the ball & begin to set the tempo of how they wanted to play. It took the Warriors until midway through the half to really get control of the ball when after turning over a West put in at the scrum the ball was moved across the field with both forward & backs carrying hard into the West defence, then on the 14th phase the ball was wept wide to winger Jane Stewart to score the Warriors 2nd try, which once again was converted by Mally McGeoch.
Fairly soon afterwards Annan scored an opportunist try when with the visitors scrum under pressure the ball was passed to their stand off who juggled the ball & before regathering Annan scrum half Nicole Barlow snaffled the ball to break clear with only the full back to beat, who she fixed before passing to supporting wing forward Allana McWilliam who did the rest by scoring her 2nd of the day.
With the half almost over the West attack managed to slip a couple of tackles to set up camp in the Annan 22 & after a couple of repelled attacks barged over from close range again.
Half time score: Annan Warriors 19 v West of Scotland Ladies 10
The Warriors took the field for the 2nd half knowing that the game wasn’t won & the opposition would come back at them as they had not been beaten in the league all season & that their tackling & ruck would need to be improved if they were to win the game.
With the underfoot conditions worsening the 1st part of the 2nd half was fairly littered with mistakes with both teams sometimes confused by some of the refereeing decisions. It was the home side however who were first to trouble the scorers when from a scrum deep into the visitors 22, Number 8 broke from the base & fed scrum half Nicole Barlow who was stopped just short, then from the ensuing ruck 2nd row Nadine Barnes forced her way over to score the bonus point try, which was converted by Mally McGeoch.
The game at this point entered a really loose scrappy phase with the referee reducing both teams to 14 for indiscretions meriting a yellow card & just as the 1st yellow was about to end Annan received a 2nd yellow card. For this period Annan defended well, pushing back the West attack & when they had the ball drove hard in attack even when down to 13.
Going into the last 5 minutes Annan returned to the full complement & from an attacking scrum 5m out number 8 Kayleigh Warrick burst over the line from the base of the scrum with Mally McGeoch converting the score.
With the game going into the final moments Annan seemed to forget to police a ruck & were counter rucked turning the ball over for West to have one final attack with the marauding number 7 bursting through the line & rounding fullback Kim Taylor to score their 3rd try.
Final Score: Annan Warriors 33 v West of Scotland Ladies 15
All in all, a decent performance from the Warriors who had to cope with loosing a player pre match & also one in the warm up immediately before the game against a West team who never gave up & will test others in the pool stages. Still things that need tightened up but work having been done in the mid-season break by the coaches is becoming evident.
Best for Annan in the forwards were Nadine Barnes, Chelsea Barnes & Ashley Clark with forward of the match going to Allana McWilliam.
In the backs Nicole Barlow, Mally McGeoch & Ciara O’Connell were to the fore with back of the match going to Ali Cook.
The Ladies are on the road next week visiting Kelso Ladies in the 2nd pool game, another test with Kelso having a good win away to Kirkcaldy 1st up.
Warriors starting XV: Ashley Clark, M Alexander, J Dalgliesh, N Barnes, M Muir, C Barnes, A McWilliam, K Warrick, N Barlow, M McGeoch, M Ker, A Cook, C O’Connell, J Stewart, K Barlow
Subs used: L Moffat, K Taylor